LEXINGTON, Ky. – Defiance blanked Transylvania 6-0 to win its second-consecutive HCAC Tournament title, as the Jackets cruised through the conference tourney unblemished for the second year in a row. DC advances to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in school history with the automatic bid.
Defiance outscored its opponents 23-8 in the double-elimination tournament, hitting .356 with eight doubles and five home runs in its three games. DC's dominance helped it place six players on the HCAC All-Tournament Team, as Amanda Auzins, Melanie Bushman, Kayla Crager, Justine Johnston, Stephanie Lieto and Marah Robinson all received recognition.
Only needing one win to punch a ticket to its second-straight NCAA Tournament, the Jackets used their experience to come up with big plays down the stretch. DC's seniors, who played a big part in this season's tourney run, stepped up once again with their hopes of a repeat on the line.
Johnston had one of the most dominating pitching performances of the tournament in the title game, holding the HCAC regular season champion Pioneers to just four hits while never allowing a runner to reach second base. The senior pitcher, who was 3-0 in the HCAC Tournament, improved to 17-9 on the year with win, recording her fifth shutout of the season.
The Jackets' offense gave Johnston plenty of run support, tallying six runs on 10 hits off Transylvania ace Kendra DeArk. Crager jumpstarted the offense in the second, hitting her second home run of the tournament, a two-run blast, to give DC an early 2-0 advantage. The Jackets would add another run in the top of the third, as Tasha Stucke plated Aarika Davis with a double to left field to put Defiance out in front 3-0.
DC tacked on an insurance run in the sixth, as Melanie Bushman drove in pinch runner Nicole Diers with a single up the middle to give the Jackets a 4-0 advantage. However, Defiance was not done producing runs, as Auzins and Stucke each hit RBI singles in the seventh to round out the scoring for the game.
Davis led DC with three hits in the contest, while Crager and Stucke each drove in a pair of runs to top the team.
Defiance will have to wait until Monday, May 4, to determine its next opponent, when the NCAA Division III Selection show airs live on NCAA.com at 9:00 a.m.